Untold Dylan Showcase: Imaginary Future

By Tony Attwood

Imaginary Future is the indie folk project of Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jesse Epstein. Influenced in his youth by the records of Simon and Garfunkel, Epstein pairs acoustic guitar and vocals from his wife and fellow musician, Kina Grannis.

Here is Times they are a changin’

Now if you are a regular reader you may have realised that “Times they are a changin'” is one of my least favourite of all the world-famous Dylan songs.  And just in case you haven’t come across my rant on the subject, I’ll summarise briefly…

“Times” is seen by most of the public at large, journalists, commentators, and even some hard-core Dylan fans, as a protest song.   But even a brief study of the lyrics shows this is not so – what the song says is that our world is changing irrespective of any action taken by people; it is in fact just happening.  If there is a philosophy here it is that of stocism – the view that stuff happens, but we have little or no control over it.

For me, Dylan fans jumping up and down and applauding when Dylan gets to the end of the verse and says “Times they are a changin” is about as bizarre as it can get.

Indeed most cover versions of this song continue the tradition of implying that times are changing because of what we, the people, are doing.

But here, in this rendition from Imaginary Future, it seems to me that the true meaning of the lyrics is finally, at last, after all these years, expressed in the music.  This is how “Times” needs to be performed to put across what the lyrics say.

An excellent performance, in my personal view, and I’m delighted to be able to include it here.

Imaginary Future have their own website at which you can listen to their music, shop for t-shirts and their album, or indeed become a patron.

If you have a suggestion for a performance of a Dylan song, or a Dylan related song, or a song in the style of Dylan, by a comparatively unknown singer or band, please email Tony@schools.co.uk with a link to the performance on line and any background information you have.

Previously in this series…

What else is on the site?

We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 3400 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 599 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note our friends at  The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).



  1. Change happens for sure but to say change happens when it involves people does not need to have people participating in that change is a dubious assertion for sure; the future consequence of their actions may be in doubt, but the result thereof is not preordained regardless of whether people become involved or not.

    Change doesn’t just happen. There has to be some historical event that ignites the call for change, ie the Vietnam War, for example. The song takes on a meaning of it own regardless of its writer’s intention – it was not written in a historical vacuum where it would hardly be noticed.

    For many it was a ‘protest’ song, and Dylan participated in the change big time. It can hardly be said he was truly puzzled about the reaction thereto, or did not know what he was going on, or that he was asserting that the protest movement was all in vain.

    But as a creative artist, he refused be stuck on or trapped by one particular aspect of the human condition, and had to move on sooner or later.

    Even in its day, “The Times” was not considered a simplistc ‘protest’ song. But it fit well into the particular circumstances of that time. The words are doubled-edged enough that the manner in which the it is sung, and the music played with it, brings out the lasting universal character of the song rather than it merely having a particular appeal that would have faded away quickly with the passage of time.

  2. This song such a lovely arrangement and interpretation of Bob’s “Times they are Changing”. It offers a fresh hearing of the lyrics in more of a gentle appeal instead of Bob’s original more edgy style. I especially like how you highlighted that fact Tony! We all hear things subjectively and different presentation of the same poem or song can make all the difference. This is why I like to listen to Bob’s live renditions of songs throughout the years and different tours. Not only do his arrangements and lyrics sometimes change but often his delivery and emphasis on certain aspects of the music and/or lyrics change so it impresses you differently.

    I think “Times they are a changing” is a brilliant song and even though I hear what you are saying Tony I tend to lean more towards Larry’s take on it! There are always factors in our living that create change. It is not a fate scenario that things will change no matter what even though in some ways they will. There are many types of catalysts that come into play such as socio/political/economic/ foreign/domestic/climate to just name a few. To my thinking the will for change is greatest in young people seeking to become independent adults. This song offered something to the youth of that day and indeed still can for those who get to be exposed to it. But when it came out it was a phenomena because that type of thought in this piece had never been presented as hit song in such a way. First it had a more widespread airplay which was more available and it as Larry stated it also came about around the Vietnam war days. When there is unrest in particular, people need things to embrace and to rally to! This is a song to challenge conventions and the old status quo and that is precisely why it is so brilliant. Also Dylan’s use of language is just beautiful with lines such as: “admit that the waters around you have grown” coupled with you better start swimming or you will sink like a stone.” Add to that the allusions to Scripture about the first becoming last and visa versa. It is true that by the time this came out, our world had become more bureaucratic than ever. Fast changing technology sped up our world. This no doubt caused more and more red tape because those not wanting change would “block up the halls” of progress. Nothing is static as you point out Tony but it is not going in any intelligent or conscious direction without some belief or ideology behind it!

    It would be my personal hope that our society would be less complacent, and more altruistically compassionate; less apathetic and more participated in by everyday society and not just those sitting in elevated positions pulling all the strings and making all the policies to force feed the masses.

    That’s all for now

  3. Yes my dear blue angel, you can’t all the time treat Tony gently. and kindly, … sometimes you have to first hit him over the head with a two-by-four just to get his attention (lol) – the time a song is composed, and both the music and the words thereof – are factors that have to be considered.

  4. Larry LOL! I don’t need to do that! We all get frozen in our original takes on things I consciously have to re inform my opinions all the time! LOL!

  5. Larry I meant time-warped! Like when yo see a kid when they are five and then ten years later they are towering over you but your only reference is them at five LOL

  6. Larry: Tony totally Rocks! He is a very keen and astute thinker in the best of terms! If my pleas won’t bring him to my assistance in dealing with you then perhaps my most sincere accolades will!


  7. I usually just kid with Tony anyway though humour can easily be missed in the digital world.

    Besides he’s terrified out of his wits due to the strength of our International Writers Union!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *